Temperatures may drop New Years Eve, but First Night Whistlers village-wide, alcohol-free New Years celebrations will heat things up with some new attractions this year.
A heated craft tent for children, Whistler-Blackcombs ring of fire and skier/snowboarder extravaganza and an extended music lineup that will get both children and adults dancing up a storm are all designed to bring warmth to the New Years Eve festival.
"Last year, things were a bit chilly," said Bob Andrea , member of the Strategic Alliances and Events Department at the Resort Municipality of Whistler. "We want to make sure everyone has a fun time. We are just building on last years big success and will continue with the same type of programming."
On average 4,000 to 7,000 people ring in the New Year with First Night, participating in a variety of activities and entertainment.
This year, little hands busy building crafts will stay warm in the childrens craft-making tent moved from Town Plaza to Mountain Square, where kids and those who are kids at heart can make homemade lanterns, party hats and noise makers as well as contribute a patch design to the Whistler community quilt. Face painting, First Night TV, the Whistler Wishing Chair, Podium Dreams and Global Village Map are additional mini activities kids can have fun with. First Night even has an early New Years countdown at 9:15 p.m., so tykes dont have to stay up late.
The Mascot Challenge, an event where funny characters compete in silly challenges, also aims to entertain. As well, live music from Chibi Taiko, a childrens Japanese drumming troupe, will provide entertainment from the concert mainstage.
The evening progresses from events aimed at children to more adult-oriented amusements as the New Year draws closer.
In addition to Whistler-Blackcombs fire-and-ice-like show, the concert lineup takes centre stage with African/Caribbean-inspired music from Kutapira, roots beats from Western Canadian Music Award winner Wil Mimnaugh and seamless cuts from internationally renowned scratch wizard Mat the Alien.
Fire spinners, roving Short Skirt Theatre entertainers and holiday spirit fills in the rest of the gaps. The Ice Palace, a cool lounge-like setting with music, dry-ice bar and anything-goes talent show, is aimed at teens.
"Its a family-friendly event for the whole evening," Andrea said.
Talk of extending First Night into a week-long celebration continues. Andrea said the movement has begun with the addition of Tourism Whistlers holiday street entertainment and North Pole Central at MY Millennium Place.
"You are seeing a couple of weeks of family-focused entertainment leading up to First Night," he said, also noting the many holiday celebrations taking place at Whistler hotels. "We are really focusing on enhancing visitors experiences over the holidays . There is really a great movement in the resort to really start delivering the things we say we are a family resort and its been really fun working with everybody."
The Whistler-Blackcomb fire/snow show flies 6:30 p.m. at Skiers Plaza. The concert stage tunes in with Chibi Taiko at 7 p.m., Kutapira at 8 p.m., Wil Mimnaugh at 9:15 p.m., Mat the Alien at 10:45 p.m. and of course the New Years countdown at midnight in the Village Square.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids 12 years old and under, and free for children under two. Advanced tickets are available at the Whistler Conference Centre, municipal hall, Visitor Information Centre and Meadow Park Recreation Centre.
Free transit is offered between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. Andrea recommended First Night participants plan early; he said getting into the village after 11 p.m. is extremely difficult.
Road checks throughout the village by Whistler/Pemberton RCMP will ensure First Night upholds its zero tolerance of alcohol and 100 per cent fun promise.